Wait! Don’t let the title scare you away! I promise this won’t be scary.
Expectations make and break relationships. They define and drive quite a bit of our decisions and lifestyles, who we hang out with, what we’re going to wear on a particular day, etc. They also happen to be a woman’s best friend and a man’s worst enemy.
I don’t know what it is about us women, but somehow we ended up wired to have some kind of innate set of expectations. Some expectations can be good. If someone says they are going to do something and we expect them to do it, or expecting God to do something great because we know how great and powerful He is and can see from past experiences what mighty things He has done and will thus continue to do, or . . . well, you get the picture.
It’s when we put too much stock into an expectation that it becomes dangerous. An obvious example is what a woman expects from her significant other. To be stereotypical for a second (because obviously there are exceptions), for the most part men seem to be clueless when it comes to women and what they want. Granted, women generally do not communicate well their expectations to men because we expect them to know what we want and/or need. When they do not deliver, we get disappointed and often end up lashing out at them for not figuring us out. It is not their fault. They have so many things they can handle (as do women), and when we overload them there is little else they can do but throw their hands in the air and ask how in the world they managed to mess it up this time.
On the other side of the spectrum, men have expectations of women. Obviously I am not going to be as well-versed in men and their expectations, but based off conversations I have had with some good fellow young men, they would expect a woman to understand that they can only focus on one thing at a time. Requiring multiple things from them, all at once and without the proper communication, is overwhelming. Women cannot expect men to have the same brain processes, and vice versa.
It says in Genesis that God made them male and female. There is a very distinguishing factor that God makes. First off, he formed man from the very dust of the earth. He created a woman from the rib of the man. Second, as Genesis 5:2 states, “He created them male and female, and blessed them . . .” As we go through the Bible, it is very obvious that men and women are different. They are wired differently. Men often pillaged and plundered, while women were often left at home and/or more diplomatic. Men often want to fix issues with physical force, while women often want to talk through things and work them out that way.
It is important to voice expectations from the get-go, regardless of if you are just friends or something more. Good communication often helps bypass many of the issues related to unmet expectations, confusion, and sometimes heartbreak. Men and women need to learn how to communicate to one another in a way that makes sense to both of them, in a way that allows them to voice each of their expectations so neither one of them is remotely confused.
For those of you who are about to throw that glass against the wall and declare it hopeless, I promise it’s not. I have avoided many a conflict by confronting my guy-friends and asking for clarification. Sometimes they get annoyed by my not understanding properly, or by not letting something go, but in the end it is always better to ask than to let an unmet expectation fly by and fester beneath the surface.
I am not saying I am an expert by any means. But oftentimes the most complicated issues have the most simple solutions. And based off life experience, the advice I have given above is fairly accurate – but I am definitely interested in finding out what other lessons there are to be learned when it comes to managing expectations.